Diary Of A Busker Day 157 Friday September 16th Winchester High Street (1. opposite Reflex, Time: 1:45-4pm, 2. opposite Clarks, Time: 4:40-6:30pm).
It’s one of those days when I get too many people talking to me – which is all very sociable but means I have to stop playing, unless it’s The Third Man or La Vie En Rose or Albatross, which I can almost play “in my sleep” now. I’m still amazed how many people walk up and start talking to me while I’m in the middle of a song and expect me (or any other buskers) to engage in a conversation. And today I even have people coming up who usually ignore me – like a man I see all the time out here. Suddenly, he wants to ask me a load of questions like what I did when I was young and if I met any famous guitarists* when I was in some group signed to a record label a hundred years ago. After interogating me for 15 minutes, he and his friend “don’t have any change, but here (he puts an unopened Golden Virginia tobacco pouch in my bucket)…Do you smoke?” “Only if I can get my hands on a good Cuban (cigar) – not roll-ups. I haven’t smoked them for years.”
Delia comes by – it’s Friday (she comes into town Tuesdays and Fridays). I don’t mind her as I like her. She has a “good heart” -she always contributes. And she’s always aware of taking up my time. Delia reckons Winchester is one of the most polluted towns in England – that’s why her son’s always ill – “When you have children, you worry about them every day…”
Anthony, 72, former lawyer on the hunt for a young Russian bride drops by. Recently, Mick – ex cruise musician, always right there the minute all the bargain food is put out in the supermarkets, told me something about Anthony which I never noticed ’till today – when he walks, his right arm swings in an almost 180% arc – a kind of half-Pete Townshend guitar windmill. He’s struggling to learn the guitar. Today, he says he can’t get his head around the fact that, unlike the piano – which he can play – a note on the guitar can be found in several different places. For example, the open 2nd string is a “B” note, just below Middle “C”. This exact same note can also be found by fretting the 4th fret on the “G” string, on the 9th fret – “D” string and the 14th fret, “A” string, whereas, on the piano, there’s only one place you can find it.
Someone else has been talking to me for too long and I’ve just started playing again, head down, when I see the unmistakable bottom of Marie-Therese’s wretched, dirty burgundy coat brush by in front of me – slowly. I pretend to not notice – something I feel bad about afterwards as I know she likes to talk and she’s a lonely person – as she always says.
Purple God Woman Wendy turns up – unusual, as I only ever see her on Sundays. “I’m in the Chronicle this week”, she says. “Are you? I was in a couple of weeks ago – a letter about buskers using loud amplifiers”, I say, trying to hide my tiny amp by putting the Golden Virginia pouch in front of it. “Why were you in it?” “About my house, in Kings Worthy. The council won’t deal with the damp and mold and cracks under the windows…”**
* In the late 1980s a record company employee wanted to take me to a music business “do” where Hank Marvin, The Shadows guitarist was amongst the guests. He wanted to take me just so he could introduce me: “Marvin – Hank. Hank, Marvin.” At another “do”, at a posh hotel in London, I was leaving the toilet as Mark Knopfler was entering. I held the door open, “Thank you” he said, in his low Knopfler tone.
** Exerpt from article in The Hampshire Chronicle: “Richard Botham – council head of landlord services says “Every effort has been made to help Ms (Wendy) Ward. We spend alot of money adapting properties and act on recomendations made by the county councils’ occupational therapist. The occupational therapist has worked with Ms Ward before and every recomendation they made we have implemented.” So there, Wendy – stop wasting the councils’ time, and mine.